Subsurface Characterization and Development of Pole Foundation Design Groups for Utility Fire Risk Mitigation Programs
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Many electrical utility companies have recently developed fire risk mitigation programs to proactively address fire risk by “hardening” critical electrical distribution circuits within service areas most at risk for wildfires.

Utility companies are replacing existing “high risk” circuits and wood distribution poles in undeveloped areas more susceptible to fire or wind damage, and thousands of new foundation excavations will be drilled to set the replacement for steel distribution poles. Unexpected subsurface conditions, which can result in difficult or slow drilling during foundation excavation can have significant impact on project construction and cost, but due to the number of poles to be replaced, site specific investigation at each location is not economically feasible. To support utility companies with front end project planning and design, performance of targeted geologic and geotechnical evaluations is performed to characterize various “typical” ground conditions into representative reaches along distribution circuits extending across variable terrain. General engineering recommendations and soil parameters input are developed for generalized design groups to inform pole foundation design using the Moment Foundation and Design (MFAD). Geologic and geotechnical information obtained from the targeted evaluations can also be provided to bidding contractors to help them provide more accurate cost estimates and reduce potential change orders associated with unforeseeable field conditions during construction activities. This presentation will discuss implementing a four-phase investigation program as well as the challenges to develop generalized foundation design groups representative of the large distribution circuits extending for across moderate to steeply sloping terrain and variable subsurface conditions.

Publication Summary

  • Geosyntec Authors: Jared Warner, Alexander Greene
  • All Authors: Jared Warner, Jared Warner, Alexander Greene
  • Title: 65th Annual Meeting of the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists (AEG)
  • Event or Publication: Event
  • Practice Areas: Contaminated Site Assessment and Cleanup, Environmental Planning and Management, Water and Natural Resources
  • Citation: Title: Subsurface Characterization and Development of Pole Foundation Design Groups for Utility Fire Risk Mitigation Programs Presenter: Jared Warner, P.G., CEG, Sr. Engineering Geologist Date/Time: Thursday, September 15, 10:40–11:00 a.m. PDT
  • Date: September 12 through 17, 2022
  • Location: Planet Hollywood Las Vegas Resort and Casino
  • Publication Type: Platform Presentation